FIRSTLY, I want to talk to you about an incident I witnessed just before Christmas that has stuck in my mind.

I was crossing into New Canal from Queen Street, minding my own business, when I heard a woman screaming: “Pack it in!”

Startled, I looked up to see two women outside Laura Ashley, with a gaggle of children including a tot in a buggy, and a young lad – somewhere between nine and 12 years old, if I had to guess – who was running up to them, taking flying leaps and kicking both women really hard in the legs and lower body.

He did it several times, despite repeatedly being yelled at and warned that he “wouldn’t be getting anything in Poundland” if he carried on like that.

He looked furious, and he must have inflicted some nasty bruises.

No one intervened. I was frightened to, in case I got kicked, too. People just walked past pretending they hadn’t noticed.

In the end one woman hoisted him up in both arms and carried him, horizontal and still kicking, off down the road. The other children tagged along, and didn’t seem bothered.

I was, though. I really did feel shaken by such naked aggression from someone so young, who obviously wasn’t remotely concerned about being observed by others. I wondered what would become of him.

I wondered whether CCTV had picked it up and whether someone might intervene further on down the road.

I wondered how we can expect to attract and retain teachers when they have to cope with violent tantrums, even from the very young, that are simply beyond control.

And I wondered what on earth a foreign tourist would make of it. I’ve never encountered this kind of thing in any other country.

n ON a more positive note, there’s an interesting item on the agenda for tonight’s Salisbury area board meeting.

It’s a request for a grant of £5,000 of Wiltshire taxpayers’ money to help disguise empty city centre shops with decorative ‘window vinyls’.

They’ll be designed to “showcase Salisbury” and illustrate aspects of its hidden history, chiming in with the Salisbury 2020 celebrations which commemorate the 800th anniversary of the cathedral’s move from Old Sarum and the founding of the modern city.

Eight prominent retail premises will be given the temporary makeover, costing £10,000 in all, with the remainder of the funding coming from partners including the city council, business groups, the cathedral, Spire FM, Aspire Defence, Openreach, VisitWiltshire and the museum. So a real joint effort.

The aim of the project is to make the city appear more vibrant and colourful to visitors, reduce vandalism, and attract potential investors and tenants.

If a bit of window dressing can achieve any or all of that, let’s go for it.

I’d be happier if there was a mention of the corporate owners of these buildings chipping in. But presumably they can well afford for them to remain vacant. Unlike the rest of our business community.